In the 1980’s, the low-fat approach to dieting became an overarching ideology, promoted by physicians, the federal government, the food industry, and popular health media (Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences). It was believed (not proven) that there was a correlation between dietary fat intake and heart disease. Today, research has determined this to be false. The negative stigma surrounding fat, however, remained strong.
Time to put this myth to an end…consuming fat will NOT make you fat! In fact, it is essential for your body to function properly and perform efficiently. Fat plays a key role in the transportation of fat soluble vitamins, A/D/E/K, which are vital for brain development, hormone production, skin maintenance, and blood clotting.
The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines recommend 20-35% of your daily calorie intake come from fat. As with the other macronutrients (carbohydrates and protein) not all fat sources are created equal. There are two types of naturally occurring fat: saturated and unsaturated.
Saturated Fats (LIMIT IT): This group is associated with higher blood cholesterol levels and are found primarily in animal product. Foods with more saturated fat are usually solid at room temperature and are sometimes called “solid” fat. Foods high in saturated fat include fatty beef, lard/cream, butter, full-fat cheese, lamb, and coconut oil.
Recommendation for saturated fats: Less than 10% of total calories per day
Unsaturated Fats (LOVE IT): This group can be divided into two categories: Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated. Both may help improve blood cholesterol levels when used in place of saturated fats. Unsaturated fats are found in fish (salmon, tuna, sardines, tilapia), cooking oils, nuts, and seeds.
Recommendation: 25-30% of total calories per day
In addition to the two main categories outlined above, there is a sub-group of fat that many unknowingly consume each day. Trans fats (LOSE IT) are an artificially made type of fat that, like saturated fat, is also associated with higher blood cholesterol levels. On labels, the term ‘partially hydrogenated oils’ refers to trans fats. Trans fats are found in margarine, fast food/chain restaurant fried or battered foods, pre-made baking mixes or pie crusts, and many pre-packaged snacks.
Recommendation for trans fats: Less than 2 grams per day
In summary, here is the skinny on fat…Eat less saturated/trans fat and MORE unsaturated fat! So, what’s for dinner tonight? Try this crowd-pleasing salmon with avocado salsa. Loaded with heart-healthy unsaturated fats, grilled or baked, your body will thank you J